Empirical Software Engineering

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 91–118 | Cite as

Empirical evidence in global software engineering: a systematic review

  • Darja Šmite
  • Claes Wohlin
  • Tony Gorschek
  • Robert Feldt


Recognized as one of the trends of the 21st century, globalization of the world economies brought significant changes to nearly all industries, and in particular it includes software development. Many companies started global software engineering (GSE) to benefit from cheaper, faster and better development of software systems, products and services. However, empirical studies indicate that achieving these benefits is not an easy task. Here, we report our findings from investigating empirical evidence in GSE-related research literature. By conducting a systematic review we observe that the GSE field is still immature. The amount of empirical studies is relatively small. The majority of the studies represent problem-oriented reports focusing on different aspects of GSE management rather than in-depth analysis of solutions for example in terms of useful practices or techniques. Companies are still driven by cost reduction strategies, and at the same time, the most frequently discussed recommendations indicate a necessity of investments in travelling and socialization. Thus, at the same time as development goes global there is an ambition to minimize geographical, temporal and cultural separation. These are normally integral parts of cross-border collaboration. In summary, the systematic review results in several descriptive classifications of the papers on empirical studies in GSE and also reports on some best practices identified from literature.


Empirical evidence Empirical studies Systematic review Global software engineering Distributed software engineering 



This research is supported by the Knowledge Foundation in Sweden under a research grant for the project BESQ. We would like to thank the editor handling the paper and the anonymous reviewers for providing valuable feedback that helped improve the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Darja Šmite
    • 1
    • 2
  • Claes Wohlin
    • 1
  • Tony Gorschek
    • 1
  • Robert Feldt
    • 1
  1. 1.Blekinge Institute of TechnologyRonnebySweden
  2. 2.University of LatviaRigaLatvia

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